Last year I attended a dinner for area business leaders. The evening’s speaker was the Vice President of Commercial Lending for a regional bank. During the discussion portion of his presentation, a local manufacturer asked what went into the bank’s decision-making process when making a loan. Veep rattled off the usual suspects … a sound business plan, good financials, etc. But the last thing he mentioned took the air out of the room. “Employees.”
As a part of Veep’s decision-making process, he would have the owner take him on a tour of the company. Often times, they would stop and talk to employees. On one particular occasion, he noted how an owner struggled through a conversation with two machine operators – real uncomfortable vibe. He could tell relations were strained (at best). As they walked away, Veep turned around and saw both employees giving the owner the middle finger. He said, “You know what, I didn’t lend him money. Why? Because, why am I going to invest in a company when its own people won’t invest in it?” Moral of the story – you set yourself up for disaster when you shit on your people.
I’m going to channel Grandma Fox on this one. Dear Business Owner, get over yourself. Seriously, who are you? Sure, you started a business. You made some money. Maybe you even reached a state of happiness. Congratulations. You’ve achieved 100 percent of what the rest of us slobs are looking for. Regardless of where someone sits on the economic or intellectual ladder, in the grand scheme of humanity … no one person is better than another. Sure, we contribute differently to society. However, we all have the same hopes, dreams, and desires. We want to live a good life. We want respect and dignity. That’s not a lot to ask for, is it? Treat people how you want to be treated. You want to shit on them, don’t be upset when they shit on you.
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. Do me a favor, get a cup of coffee and repeat the last sentence over and over again until it’s etched in your brain. Employees are the front-line sales, brand ambassadors, emotional janitorial crew, and actual moving parts … of … your … company! Without them, you’re an overpriced freelancer in an unsustainable business.
Photo Courtesy of Probably Okay [FLICKR]